PARSIPPANY – The Republican mayoral primary between Jamie Barberio and Lou Valori is oddly low-key, but at least there’s some comic relief.
The stakes here are pretty high.
Barberio was mayor for eight years before his ouster in 2017 by Democrat Mike Soriano.
Now, Barberio wants his old job back, but first he must defeat Valori, a former township police officer and councilman.
Parsippany is by far the most populous town in Morris County and Republicans badly want to reclaim the mayor’s seat.
And the fear of Soriano winning again is palpable among active Republicans. At a meeting of the township’s GOP club a few weeks ago, some speakers warned with trepidation that another win by Democrats could put the town in the “blue” camp forever.
No matter who wins the primary, there’s no certainty of GOP success in November.
Democrats Joe Biden and Rep. Mikie Sherrill won the township last year by comfortable margins.
Democrats actually took a voter registration lead earlier this year, but the latest figures show registered Republicans almost 100 voters ahead of Democrats. That’s to be expected, given the fact both sides in a contested primary tend to register new voters.
Parsippany Republicans traditionally have fought among themselves, clearing the way in the past for Democrats like Michael Luther and the late Mimi Letts to get elected mayor.
But this year, both Valori and Barberio are pledging support for whomever wins the primary. And to keep hard feelings in check, they appear to be following through on plans for a clean campaign.
That has the effect of making the primary as exciting as a glass of warm milk on a hot day.
The Facebook pages of both Valori and Barberio are pretty tame.
Valori and his team of council candidates Justin Musella and Gary Martin are running under the banner of Parsippany First. Except for one recent post complaining about toppled campaign signs, their page is a series of posts highlighting the candidates’ visits to various groups, restaurants and municipal facilities.
And guess what, “Bring Back Barberio,” a page created to support Barberio and his team, offers much of the same. He is running with council candidates Frank Neglia and Deborah Orme.
An overriding issue, of course, is Soriano, who both candidates have criticized for any number of ills, not the least of which is fiscal mismanagement. But in truth, that’s a story for the fall.
Valori has raised about $44,000 to Barberio’s almost $10,000 as of the most recent campaign filing deadline. But that was as of May 10 and the campaign isn’t over yet. .
It will be interesting to see if anything changes campaign strategy-wise in the 10 days between now and June 8. Or perhaps, both candidates will be content with drawing out supporters simply by going door-to-door.
InsiderNJ tried to set up a debate to no avail.